Ally of Russia’s Navalny ordered to serve 6 months in prison

MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court replaced the parole-like restrictions on a close associate of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny with a prison sentence of nearly six months on Thursday.

Activist Lyubov Sobol received the 18-month parole-like sentence in August of last year after being convicted of breaching coronavirus regulations. The limits on Sobol’s freedom included a nightly curfew, and bans on using the internet and the telephone.

She has denied the accusations against her, calling them baseless and politically motivated. The charges were part of a criminal case the Russian government launched against individuals involved in countrywide protests against Navalny’s arrest and incarceration.

The Moscow court on Thursday ordered Sobol, who is reported to have left Russia like many other Navalny allies, to serve five months and 26 days in prison.

In April 2021, Sobol received a separate suspended sentence of one year’s community service for trespassing after she tried to confront an alleged security operative believed to be involved in Navalny’s August 2020 poisoning with a Soviet-era nerve agent.

A court in Moscow found Sobol guilty of forcing her way into the apartment of a relative of the alleged operative, whom Navalny said he had duped into revealing details of the poisoning. The suspended sentence was later revoked and Sobol was ordered to perform the community service.

Navalny is currently serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for a 2014 embezzlement conviction he said was fabricated and the European Сourt of Human Rights declared “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.”

He was arrested in January 2021 upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials have rejected the allegations.

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